In 1996, Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) in “Le complot de l’art” (The conspiracy of art)¹ begins a process of criticism and reflection on the paths of contemporary art and the so-called avant-garde that focuses on the fact that Art has lost its illusory capacity, feeding on itself and becoming trans esthetic as society as a whole. The French philosopher’s book is the motto of the curatorial challenge, configurated as the gateway to zet gallery in 2020. Bárbara Rosário, Daniela Pinheiro, Grécia Paola, Ivan Postiga, Maria Cunha, Maria Regina Ramos, Natacha Martins, Rafael Oliveira and Raquel Oliveira star in an exhibition which questions the limits of mimesis, the semiotic and iconoclastic field of artwork and the possibilities of appropriation of the authentic that characterize the field of contemporary artistic production. The nine authors are all students or have recently finished their studies at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto. They have been selected for this exhibition with the aim of trying to highlight the character of the School, its plurality of thought forms and the resistance of the know-how, a technical domain that combines conceptual views with different angels and which tells us that painting, drawing and sculpture, while disciplines, will continue to deserve to be the basis, the starting point for the creation of illusions and imaginary conspiracies.

Painting. The pictorial and geometric map by Daniela Pinheiro, in a fullness of flat colors in semantic degradé, proposes color as a game of manipulation of what we see. It is a mesh, an order that organizes chaos or a code that hides conspiracy, a scam. Figuration dominates in heavy descriptions. Violence. Rafael Oliveira explores the degradation of a built space resulting from disease, loss and death. His work reveals tremendous technical maturity and drives us to some type of thematic detachment that restrains us from diving into the darkness and density of his narrative. Maria Cunha shows roughness and ugliness in detail of revealed bodies. More than an anatomical study, it is a redemption of our shadow painted densely and rigorously with the form stemming from the dark, with daylight; bodies rising from the night. Natacha Martins brings us back to a type of modern expressionism, aggressive and based on a pallet of contrasts. We feel her traction and precision, the breathing of the brush and the movement of the paint. There is a combination of still lifes and ecstatic living bodies that transports us into the field of performance which the artist also explores as an expansion of research into the vital faculties of the body in a kind of interpreted Maslow pyramid. Raquel Oliveira represents herself, she traces, changes and transfigures allowing herself to be possessed by the strangeness of other objects or bodies which alter her complexion while expressing inner, (inter)personal perceptions. Art as an exercise of self-knowledge, catharsis and confession. Appropriation. Through a diversity of supports, while maintaining a two-dimensional register, Ivan Postiga brings us a complex graphic universe, where what is almost natural merges with what resembles suggestions of human or animal figuration. Daring, he traces with color compositions of black and white, streaking or flat with great technical rigor. Maria Regina Ramos, also with a serial proposal, paints wild, enlarged and cosmic universes, equally from degradé and from the stain that builds the form. Her work of great plastic strength, addresses space and its charms and challenges us to an expanded field of observation beyond contemplation, almost calling for an urgent analytical performance. Experience. Painting aside, we move on to Bárbara Rosário and a set of essays on materials, objects and experience of the body as a binding term of the nature of all sculpture forms. Her work is dense, technically ambitious and rich in its chapters and readings; it approaches the conceptual frameworks, investing in games of light, combining different ways of doing and seeing and proposing an ever different expographic approach. Lastly, Grécia Paola puts forth, with drawing and sculpture, a view and a reflection of that (same) view in an inner and intimate production, persistent and unmeasured, coated with visceral intensity. It is not indisputable, it is demanding. It asks us to change ergonomics and experience discomfort. There is no taboo when we once again talk about sickness, loss and death, when we question the universe and pose all the questions and answers, without consolation and certain of the scam and the bilateral conspiracy of the experimentation game in Art.

THE CONSPIRACY OF ART seeks to cast the net into the sea from the great semiological force of Baudrillard’s reflections which refute traditional scientific thinking and are based on a philosophy that bets on the virtuality of a constructed reality, a hyper-reality in which the structure of the process where mass culture produces images, evangelizes and induces. In an almost classic expographic exercise, the Academy and its paths are exposed and, above all it calls for the gathering, the conspiracy and the unraveling of the philosophical, aesthetic, experimental scam, the illusion of consolation in Stig Dagerman’s ((1923-1954) reflexions.²

Helena Mendes Pereira
zet gallery’s chief curator

¹ BAUDRILLARD, Jean – The Conspiracy of Art. South Pasadena: Semiotext(s), 2005.
² DAGERMAN, Stig – A nossa necessidade de consolo é impossível de satisfazer. Lisbon: Fenda, 1989 (1st edition).